In this guest blog, policy and campaigns consultant Ayaz Manji outlines seven key deadlines for some parliamentary tools to get MPs raising your issue and holding the Government to account.
Knowing some of your options for getting issues raised in Parliament — and how the timings work — can open up loads of options for campaigning. Here are just a few of them:
A chance for MPs to put questions directly to a specific department. Useful for getting Ministers to notice an issue and holding them to account on past commitments. Deadlines to submit are usually a week in advance and work on a rota system for each department.
Asking a question at PMQs is effectively a ballot as MPs don’t need to decide the topic when they table them. The deadline to do this is usually 12.30 on the previous sitting Thursday.
Force Ministers to answer questions on something time sensitive and important. Likely to get some media pick-up. Deadline is the morning of the day the debate should take place but the exact times vary slightly with sitting hours.
Select Committee deadlines
You can find a list of select committee inquiries that are accepting written evidence on the UK Parliament website. Not uncommon for them to start planning sessions with witnesses before the deadline closes so responding sooner is always better.
Westminster Hall Debates
These happen away from the main chamber and don’t involve a vote – which make them less high profile. But Ministers still respond and so can help get MPs engaged on your issue. Deadlines vary depending on the answering Department. Find them on the most recent Order Paper.
Backbench Business Debates
Can take place in the main chamber or Westminster Hall and can sometimes involve a vote on a motion. MPs need to put in a request and then effectively pitch their debate topic to a special committee. They usually meet on Tuesdays, with the deadline to put in a request at 2.30pm the sitting Friday before.
Happen at the end of the day, Ministers respond but main aim of the debate can’t be to call for legislation. The deadline to table is Wednesday at 7pm for debates up to two weeks out. Also on the most recent Order Paper.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but if you’re looking to find out more there’s lots more information in the MP’s guide to procedure.
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